1. Classmate (K. Rog)
Fears, Phobias, and Anxiety
Main Discussion Post
Figuring out an accurate diagnosis is the beginning step when treating a mental disorder (Flamez & Sheperis, 2016). Anxiety and fear is a normal part of childhood development (Flamez & Sheperis, 2016). Unfortunately a lot of anxiety and fear that is experienced in childhood follows children and adolescents into adulthood. A child’s anxiety symptoms include affective, physiological, behavioral, and cognitive aspects (Flamez & Sheperis, 2016). Childhood phobias are crippling (Roberts, Farrell, Waters, Oar, & Ollendick, 2016).
Common Adolescent Phobia
Studies have proven that it is common for young people to report fears that relate to animals, medical visits, and situational and environmental challenges (Muris & Field, 2010). A common adolescent phobia is being afraid to make new friends in a new environment. Individuals who experience social anxiety disorder have fear or anxiety that relates to social situations where they may be scrutinized (Flamez & Sheperis, 2016). Children who experience social anxiety disorder often have a desire to interact with others but forgo the opportunity due to fear that they will perform poorly or be perceived negatively (Flamez & Sheperis, 2016).
One potential societal factor that may contribute to the fear of making new friends is the adolescent feeling that they are not worthy or popular enough to warrant a friendship. This could be based on the societal norms of name brand clothing, latest hairstyle, and even dialect. If any of these social norms are realized then this can subject the adolescent to being bullied. Peer bullying is a problem that exists worldwide (Pecjak & Pirc, 2017). There is a perception that the school promotes a culture where showing aggression is a valid way for student affirmation as well as entertaining peers (Pecjak & Pirc, 2017). With this in mind, the adolescent’s fear is justified in that they do not want to be penalized for not living up to others’ expectations.
One potential cultural factor is ethnicity. The Latina/o community is discriminated against often just for being of a different ethnicity that speaks a different language. The worldview of them is often negative and disheartening which adds to their stress and cultural challenges. Many Latina/o children struggle to find their own sense of belonging (Sue & Sue, 2016). In our society beauty is measured by Hollywood’s standards. African-Americans have full lips, full hips, various hair types, and various eye colors yet our beauty is often times seen as inferior to those of other ethnicities which can make us look at ourselves and question how we look and who we are.
One potential environmental factor is that the adolescent may have previously experienced a traumatic experience when trying to make new friends. Social anxiety disorder symptoms are often times developed during early childhood but remain undiagnosed for several years (Flamez & Sheperis, 2016). If the adolescent has previously had a bad experience with initiating new friendships then they would likely have a lot of anxiety concerning doing it again. The adolescent may be scared to repeat the same mistakes or concerned that they will freeze up, say the wrong thing or be too shy to say anything at all. The embarrassment of their past failures could easily be driving their current anxiety.
How to Help Parents/Guardians
Treatment can be enhanced when parents view their child’s mental health treatment in a positive way (Roberts et al., 2016). Parents are encouraged to actively participate in their child’s mental health treatment process (Roberts et al., 2016). Being able to provide parents and guardians with resources that can help them work through their child’s anxiety would also be helpful. After giving them the resources, in the next counseling session we could review what they found and give them an opportunity to ask any follow-up questions.
Social anxiety disorder specifically focuses on performance that includes fear of avoidance behavior in relation to the public (Flamez & Sheperis, 2016). There are several factors that can contribute to this type of anxiety such as society, culture, and environment. Working with both the parents and the adolescents to overcome social anxiety disorder is extremely helpful in the treatment process.
Flamez, B., & Sheperis, C. J. (2016). Diagnosing and treating children and adolescents: A guide for clinical and school settings. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Muris, P., & Field, A. P. (2010). The Role of Verbal Threat Information in the Development of Childhood Fear. “Beware the Jabberwock!”. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review,13(2), 129-150. doi:10.1007/s10567-010-0064-1
Pečjak, S., & Pirc, T. (2017). Bullying and Perceived School Climate: Victims’ and Bullies’ Perspective. Studia Psychologica, 59(1), 22-33. doi:10.21909/sp.2017.01.728
Roberts, C. L., Farrell, L. J., Waters, A. M., Oar, E. L., & Ollendick, T. H. (2015). Parents’ Perceptions of Novel Treatments for Child and Adolescent Specific Phobia and Anxiety Disorders. Child Psychiatry & Human Development,47(3), 459-471. doi:10.1007/s10578-015-0579-2
Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2016). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.